Five arrested in visa fraud case
3 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Police have arrested five people on suspicion of smuggling hundreds of East European illegal immigrants into the Netherlands over several years.
The Public Prosecutions Office in Leeuwarden in the north of the country said on Wednesday the arrests took place on 25 November and the 58-year chief suspect, a resident of the village of Skarsterlân, has been remanded in custody.
The four other suspects have been bailed and police have not ruled out further arrests. The four released suspects have been identified as two men, aged 25 and 50, a 53-year-old woman from the Smallingerland municipality and a 42-year-old women from the province of Groningen.
East European illegal immigrants are alleged to have paid the suspects to bring them to the Netherlands, but it is not yet known how much money was paid, news agency ANP reported.
The main suspect is alleged to have started smuggling illegal immigrants — mainly men, but also women and children — into the Netherlands from primarily Belarus and the Ukraine.
Due to the fact that the Netherlands does not have an embassy in the region, forged visa applications were lodged with the Dutch embassy in Warsaw, Poland.
Based on the false information provided, hundreds of East Europeans were issued with visas to enter the Netherlands. At least 20 are still awaiting an answer on their asylum requests, while an equal number have been deported.
Dutch immigration authorities frequently deport East Europeans back to their land of origin, many of whom come here for work. But East European women are often found working in the sex industry and east European crime gangs are also common in the Netherlands.
Following the expansion of the EU to include 10 East European countries next year, the Netherlands is expected to close its borders for two years to East European workers to prevent a flood of cheap labour threatening the employment of Dutch nationals.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news